Romania’s Constatina Dita takes us through her last couple of races of the year and how she spent time with her son Rafael before concluding her long road trip following Beijing’s Olympic success…
“We just returned from a great trip to Japan and Australia. I brought my son, Rafael, on this trip, as I thought it was a good chance for him to see some parts of the world he has never seen before and it was also a chance to spend some time together. We went to Japan for the Chiba International Ekiden, and then to Australia for the new Great Australia Run Melbourne 15K.
“I was excited to be competing in the Chiba Ekiden race as I was running for my country alongside many of the upcoming junior runners of Romania. There were 11 countries competing in this relay race. I ran the 7.195km anchor leg. The race itself proved to be difficult for me and many of the other athletes due to the cold, rainy conditions. It felt like ice while I waited to get the relay from my teammate. Much of the course I ran was downhill, which I struggled with, especially the initial descent. I am much more comfortable running uphill. We spent a lot of time with the junior athletes, and for them, it was a good experience to race in this kind of high-quality competition.
“The day after the ekiden, we went to stay for a night in Tokyo, also with my coach and my manager. We visited the Akasaka headquarters of the IAAF broadcasting partner, TBS, in Tokyo. It was in a really beautiful area of Tokyo, all new clean buildings with nice shops and restaurants. I made an interview in the studios discussing the Olympics, training, and future plans for next year. I think they plan to use this next summer when they broadcast the World Championships. After the interview, they took us to a nice Italian restaurant right next door, but not before we went into the TBS store and bought some fun things from Japanese TV shows.
“The next morning, my manager and I went for a run around the emperor’s palace, which was only about five minutes form our hotel. Because we had the day more or less free, I took Rafael to Tokyo Disneyland. Wow, he loved it! It was much bigger than we expected, and there were lots of crazy, fun rides and things to do in the park. We stayed as long as we could, and then went straight from the park to Narita airport for our flight down to Australia.
“We had some problems at first, because we were supposed to fly through Bangkok, but that was the same day Bangkok’s airport closed down from protests. As it worked out, Qantas accepted our tickets from Thai Airways, and we could fly direct to Australia, so we were lucky after all.
“I was very much looking forward to this trip, as I have always wanted to go to Australia and also compete in one of the Great Run series of races, so now I was able to do both. I knew this would be a difficult race as there were many strong runners on the start line with me. I really enjoyed being part of the largest race in Australia. The weather conditions were very mild. I was happy with 6th place as I have been so busy following the Olympics.
“I had many events and press conferences surrounding the race, many with Haile Gebrselassie, who was also one of the invited runners. On Sunday afternoon, our friend Tom Bedford picked us up and took us to the Great Ocean Road and one of the top surfing beaches in Australia. Despite his busy schedule, Tom was nice enough to give Rafael the first surfing lesson of his life. Rafael loved it, even if the water was cold! I decided to watch from the beach and relax while they were in the waves.
“On the way back to America, we had two days in Sydney. It is really a beautiful city. I liked the harbor and some boat rides we did. We visited the Opera House, the Bridge, and enjoyed the warm weather. Also, we went to Manly Beach on our last day. I think it would be a good place to train in the winter, with bike paths, a beautiful beach, and great weather.
“The world tour finally wrapped up and it is nice to be back in Colorado. I jumped straight back into many events in my local community, like being a guest at a senior citizens’ Christmas party and being the guest of honour at the Christmas parade in Erie, my home town here. But it is nice now to just sleep in my own bed again after travelling everywhere since Beijing.”